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New reminder texts to cut missed appointments at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn

PUBLISHED: 11:07 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:07 03 October 2018

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn Picture: QEH

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn Picture: QEH

QEH

A new text reminder service is being introduced at a Norfolk hospital in a bid to cut missed appointments, which last year cost it nearly £3m.

Patients at the Queen Elizabveth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn will receive two free reminders about outpatient appointments when the new service is launched on Monday.

One in 10 people do not attend because they simply forget and last year the hospital recorded 19,161 missed appointments across 51 specialities. Each missed appointment costs the NHS £150 and can result in a patient being discharged back to their GP.

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It is hoped that the new text service, which offers patients the opportunity to rebook or cancel, will benefit both the Hospital and the wider community by helping to reduce waiting times.

Chief executive Jon Green said: “We appreciate how busy people are and so it can be easy to forget an appointment or mislay the initial letter.

“By adopting this new service, we are hoping that this will make life easier for our patients and ensure they see receive the important treatment and advice from the medical professional they need to.

“Missed appointments also prevent us from allocating that slot to another patient who will also need to see our dedicated doctors, nurses and therapists.”

The new service will apply to the majority of appointments for outpatients, endoscopy, rehabilitation and day surgery.

Patients will receive a free reminder, via an SMS text or a landline call, seven days ahead of their appointment.

They will then be asked to respond with either “yes” to confirm, “rebook” to rearrange or “cancel” if the appointment is no longer needed.

Patients will also receive a further text reminder 24 hours before their appointment.

By notifying the Hospital of a cancellation or rebooking will ensure that the slot is not wasted and help to reduce patient waiting times.

This is a free service will not result in patients being charged for receiving or replying to the appointment reminders.

Patients can also opt out of the service, which is provided by Healthcare Communications, by responding “stop” to the initial text.

Where it is not possible for a patient to be reminded by text, the Hospital will continue to contact those people by telephone.

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